Wednesday, December 31, 2008

18 words: LORD

If you've ever wanted a good, short and informative defense of the Trinity, then turn to the chapter on "LORD" in 18 Words. In just 11 pages Packer does a good job of verbalizing the truth of the Trinity from Scripture and the reason it is important.

He traces the use of the word Lord through the Old and New Testaments and shows, convincingly, that Trinitarian theology was not developed 400 years after the Scriptures were written, but was known and believed by the very writers of the New Testament.

Specifically interesting to me was his defense of the Holy Spirit's distinction as a "he" and not an "it." I think he is right to say that understanding the relationship between the Father, Son and Spirit are essential to understanding the Gospel.

I end with a quote from the last page of the chapter:

To put it the other way round: the gospel says that there was in God from eternity mutuality of love and joy (John 1:1f.; 17:5,24); that men were made to share this fellowship; that when sin had made this impossible, God came in person--the second Person, sent by the first Person and empowered by the third Person--to save us; that God-made-flesh died for us, lives for us, united us to Himself, brings us to God the Father now and will take us one day to share His glory; that a divine Guest, the Holy Spirit, indwells each Christian (there are over 800 million of us alive today, leaving aside the faithful departed) to prompt prayer and transform our fallen nature; and that Jesus Christ is companion and friend to every single believer, giving him or her constant and undistracted attention. It is surely obvious that one of these marvelous, almost fantastic things could be said save on the supposition that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are God--in other words, that God is Father, Son and Holy spirit. Those who deny the Trinity have to scale down the gospel--and do.

And so, I leave you with the Gospel in hopes that you spend the night thinking, talking and believing in Christ the Lord and Savior, so that perhaps you can spend the rest of the year doing so, as well.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

tuesday martyr: john huss

One hundred years before the 95 theses came a man from Bohemia, on whose shoulders stood Martin Luther. That man was John Huss.

Huss relied heavily on the teachings of John Wycliffe and for it, was imprisoned and finally burned at the stake.

He fought against the idea that the Pope is the final authority of the church and when asked to recant this idea, he demanded that he be shown from Scripture his error.

He was charged formally on 40 accounts (taken from his writings) and he responded to every one of those charges that he had indeed said them and still defended them...continually demanding to be shown from Scripture his errors in the matter.

At one point he was urged by King Wenceslas (nope, not the one the song is about, though he was from Bohemia as well) and another duke to recant and to stop his arrogance of going against the entire council (for at the time there were 3 popes...that's right...3) Huss responded that if even the weakest of the men of the council were to show him his error that he would immediately withdraw whatever statement was in error and recant of his sin...and yet none were able to do so.

Since it was against the papal law to have a defense if you were being tried as a heretic, Huss was condemned without ever having stood trial. His charges were read aloud and he had the opportunity to recant, but not the opportunity to defend.

Just before his execution he was reported to have said, (quoted from CCEL copy of Foxe's book of Martyrs):

"You are now going to burn a goose, (Huss signifying goose in the Bohemian language:) but in a century you will have a swan which you can neither roast nor boil." If he were prophetic, he must have meant Martin Luther, who shone about a hundred years after, and who had a swan for his arms.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

is it necessary?

Is it necessary to be able to articulate the Gospel in order to be saved? Do you have to be able to say "this is the Gospel and by it I am saved"? Do you need to be able to communicate what you are saved from?

My thought is that you do, at least in a simple way (I don't mean you have to explain what justification by faith alone through the imputation of Christ's righteousness and the expiation of sin...) but I do think you need to be able to tell someone what the Gospel is: that God came to earth as the man Jesus in order to die in our place for our sins and that He was raised again to life and that now He sits in heaven to await His return.

I also think you should be able to say what you are saved from: sin, death, wrath of God, hell...something.

And, if you can't tell me what the Gospel is and what it saved you from...can you really say you are saved? Saved from what? for what?

Based on the discussion tonight, I worry for the salvation of many who walk amongst my church.

May God grant them saving knowledge of the truth of the Gospel so that they know why they can be saved and what they are saved from (and hopefully, that they know that they are also saved to life...but I'm not sure it is necessary to know that.)

Do you know the Gospel? Do you believe it?


Friday, December 26, 2008

revelation and scripture

First, I must say that Packer writes in a very readable style. He's easy to follow and, though he probably knows more than a few, he doesn't use a huge vocabulary. In fact, in the intro he makes a point to say that he is trying to make these words as knowable as possible without getting technical.

In dealing with revelation he glosses over several aspects including: past, present and future revelation from God and general and specific revelation. I think his basic message is that God has been, is and will continue to reveal himself in a general way to all mankind and in a more specific way to those who hear the Gospel (through the teaching and preaching of Scripture.)

The most interesting point was his summary of what "God was revealing in the biblical period."
1. He was revealing Himself (general revelation, Romans 1 idea)
2. He was revealing His kingdom (through general and specific revelation that he is and was and forever will be the only king and ruler of this world)
3. He was revealing His covenant (I will be your God and you will be my people...and the blessing which flow form that. God is faithful)
4. He was revealing His law (so that we could look and like him)
5. He was revealing His salvation (rescuing his people from Egyptians, Babylonians, foes and troubles and finally from his own wrath through Christ.)

Notice what is not explicitly stated, but is implicit throughout, is that he was never revealing "his love." Does it seem odd that we maintain God's love first and foremost and Packer ascribes only these 5 things and not love to his revelation package?

Perhaps a better way to understand the Gospel would be to view it through these lenses so that God maintains his proper seat on the throne in the midst of salvation.

And then revelation leads, quite easily, into Scripture. He points out that the Scriptures are "the written record of the drama of redemption. The historical books relate it; the sermons of the prophets and apostles explain and apply it, and point to the climax of Christ's coming again; the Psalms meditate on it; the wisdom writings look at life in light of it."

He goes on to discuss, briefly, the reliability of their testimony by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. In it he also talks of the holiness of Scripture and that regarding it as holy does not mean we are committing idolatry (I think Piper had a small paper out on this subject, but I can't locate it. If you know what it might be, let me know.)

He ends with a quote from J.C. Ryle and I will do the same.

You live in a world where your soul is in constant danger. Enemies are round you on every side. Your own heart is deceitful. Bad examples are numerous. Satan is always laboring to lead you astray. Above all false doctrine and false teachers of every kind abound. This is your great danger.

To be safe you must be well armed. You must provide yourself with the weapons which God has given you for your help. You must store your mind with Holy Scripture. This is to be well armed.

Arm yourself with a thorough knowledge of the written Word of God. Read your Bible regularly. Become familiar with your Bible...Neglect your Bible and nothing that I know of can prevent you from error if a plausible advocate of false teaching shall happen to meet you. Make it a rule to believe nothing except it can be proved from Scripture. The Bible alone is infallible..Do you really use your Bible as much as you ought?

There are many today, who believe the Bible, yet read it very little. does your conscience tell you that you are one of these person?

If so, you are the man that is likely to get little help from the Bible in time of need. trial is a sifting experience...Your store of Bible consolations may one day run very low.

If so, you are the man that is unlikely to become established in the truth. I shall not be surprised to hear that you are troubled with doubts and questioned about assurance, grace, faith, perseverance, etc. The devil is an old and cunning enemy. He can quote Scripture readily enough when he pleases. Now you are not sufficiently ready with your weapons to fight a good fight with him...Your sword is held loosely in your hand.

If so, you are the man that is likely to make mistakes in life. I shall not wonder if I am told that you have problems in your marriage, problems with your children, problems about the conduct of your family and about he company you keep. The world you steer through is full of rocks, shoals an sandbanks. You are not sufficiently familiar either with lighthouses or charts.

If so, you are the man who is likely to be carried away by some false teacher for a time. It will not surprise me if I hear that one of these clever eloquent men who can make a convincing presentation is leading you into error. You are in need of ballast (truth); no wonder if you are tossed to and fro like a cork on the waves.

All these are uncomfortable situations. I want you to escape them all. Take the advice I offer you today. Do not merely read your Bible a little--but read it a great deal... Remember your many enemies. Be armed!


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

tuesday martyr: nicholas burton

I apologize for being a day late, I simply forgot that it was Tuesday.

Nicholas Burton was falsely accused of a crime (in fact, there was no formal accusation and when he demanded them to charge him they told him to quiet himself and sent him to prison.) While in prison for 14 days he preached the Word and several came to faith in Christ.

Soon after, he was taken to the prison in Seville where he was tortured in ways that are not recorded because it was never revealed who his inquisitors were and he was never allowed to speak or write during that time.

To give you an idea of how awful these tortures were, here is a quote from Foxe on the matter:

At the first time of torturing, six executioners entered, stripped him naked to his drawers, and laid him upon his back on a kind of stand, elevated a few feet from the floor. The operation commenced by putting an iron collar round his neck, and a ring to each foot, which fastened him to the stand. His limbs being thus stretched out, they wound two ropes round each thigh; which ropes being passed under the scaffold, through holes made for that purpose, were all drawn tight at the same instant of time, by four of the men, on a given signal.

After he had been tortured for some time, he was brought out with several others and ordered to be burned. It was said that during the burning he had such a cheerful countenance that they deemed that his soul had been received by the devil and that he could feel no pain. It is unbelievable how much these people believed in the lies of the Roman Church of the time.

You can read more about the inquisition here.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

18 words

I recently picked up a book by JI Packer entitled 18 Words: The Most Important Words You Will Ever Know. I'm pretty excited to read it, because I have never read anything by Packer (the only contact I've had is through articles, people talking about him and youtube.)

So, I've decided to blog through the book. Don't worry, it is fairly short, with an average of about 10 pages per chapter. I'll probably hit a few chapters a week.

Reasons for doing so:
1. Accountability. I won't be able to skip out on reading it.
2. Familiarity. I'd like to become more familiar with Packer.
3. Your Benefit. It's always good to learn, so why not learn from a dude like Packer?

Next week (Thursday or Friday) I'll put up my first post.

Just so you know, the words (in chapter order) are:
1. Revelation
2. Scripture
3. The Lord
4. The World
5. Sin
6. The Devil
7. Grace
8. The Mediator
9. Reconciliation
10. Faith
11. Justification
12. Regeneration
13. Election
14. Holiness and Sanctification
15. Mortification
16. Fellowship
17. Death


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

planned parenthood

I don't know if you all have seen these videos or not, but they are horrible.

A group called Live Action Films, headed by a UCLA student went undercover to expose the law-breaking and other offenses that regularly happen behind closed doors at Planned Parenthood offices. The following videos were taken in Bloomington and Indianapolis. If you'd like more information please visit Live Action Films.

HT: Take Your Vitamin Z

tuesday martyr: davou bulle

On December 29, 2004, Davou Bulle was fatally shot and killed in Nigeria. His son, Gyan, in an attempt to protect his father, took 14 bullets and, thankfully, lived.

Davou's wife, Mary, was also shot and survived.

You can read more about Davou, here and here.

Be sure to be in prayer for those around the world who are persecuted daily for their faith in Christ. If you'd like to get involved, visit Voice of the Martyrs.


Monday, December 15, 2008

the gospel

Here is what life is about:

HT:Pure Church

Thursday, December 11, 2008

an old hymn and some silence

This hymn has been on my mind for a few weeks and then today, Mark Driscoll, posted this.

Then, later today, I found this on youtube:

Let all mortal flesh keep silence, and with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded, for with blessing in his hand
Christ our God to earth descendeth, our full homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary, as of old on earth he stood,
Lord of lords in human vesture, in the body and the blood,
He will give to all the faithful His own self for heav'nly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth from the realms of endless day,
That the pow'rs of hell may vanish as the darkness clears away.

At his feet the six-winged seraph; cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the Presence, as with ceaseless voice they cry,
"Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Lord most high!"

Amen and come quickly, Lord Jesus.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

tuesday martyr: modern martyrs in turkey

Last year, three men: Tilman Geske, Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel gave their lives as witnesses to the grace of God in Malatya, Turkey. They were holding a Bible study for several men who were interested in hearing the Gospel.

These "interested" men, however, came to the study with guns, knives, ropes and towels after preparing themselves for a slaughter. They were members of an elite group in Turkey called tarakit.

Shortly after the Bible study began the three men listed above had their throats slit and died. It took police force to get into the room where the attack happened.

The families of the martyrs plead for forgiveness, citing Jesus' (and Steven's) words, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do."

What a powerful testimony in the face often violent outbreaks against Christians in Turkey. Pray for the churches and believers over there, that they might be strong and courageous in the faith and that their testimony would be used as a means to bring many to salvation.

For a much more in-depth story on these men, go here.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

i'm a slacker...but this is funny

I've been out of commission on the blog scene these past couple of weeks...but I'll be back up and running next week.

In place of my usual posts I thought I'd leave you with something you could only find in Rochester, IN.

This picture was on the front page of our newspaper, the Sentinel, as well as their website. Under it was the following caption:

Brothers Darin, left, and Chad Pantle dress out an eight-point buck along Jefferson Street Monday. Chad, who took the buck with his muzzleloader Thanksgiving Day, plans to have the head mounted.

And people wonder where I get my crazy stories. I don't have to make things up...this stuff just happens.